Wandering Budapest (Central Hungary)

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After a late night I sleep in and don’t head into Budapest city until early afternoon. I arrange to meet with a Norwegian who I met at the bar last night. Not a romantic meet up but just a “two guys visiting a foreign city” meet up. I had planned to go to see some of the “sights” like some of Budapest’s museums but I end up hanging out with the Norwegian guy and walking around the city hanging out.

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There’s plenty of random things to see in any city. And Budapest is no exception. There’s this cool motorbike chained up to a lamp post that I would love to ride in real life (sorry to the owner … we did not harm).

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And there’s this strange tribute to Michael Jackson that we stumble across while walking through a city park. I doubt you’ll find mention of this in any guide book. There was even a lady at the tribute laying fresh flowers. I never knew Michael Jackson was so popular to Hungarians.
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I did go to St Stephens Basilica though. It was amazing! Entry is free but tourists are asked to make a 200HUF ($1) donation to the upkeep of the building. I thought the building looked fantastic from the outside a month ago when I walked through Budapest for the first time. But inside it is even more amazing. The ceiling contains stunning reliefs and frescos. Photos and words cannot do it justice. It’s one of those places you just have to actually visit.

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But what I like most is just wandering around seeing random sights, like this old building that is being reclaimed by nature and these rusty old gates.

At night I check out some more of the city’s gay nightlife. The Norwegian joins me on this adventure. We find a quiet lounge bar where a few people are drinking relatively cheap drinks before heading next door to a madcap karaoke bar. The karaoke bar is so camp. Some men can actually sing a bit but most probably shouldn’t apply for their respective nation’s Idol singing contests. I refrain from adding my terrible singing voice to the mix but, instead, enjoy the atmosphere. We also check out another bar with another dark cruising area out the back. In a city where a beer costs about 350-500HUF, beers here cost 600HUF and there is a minimum bar spend of 1000HUF. It’s no surprise that there are probably only about 20-25 men here (it being Sunday is probably another reason).

A grown up’s day in Budapest (Central Hungary)

Warning: This post contains adult themes. If you are likely to be offended, please skip this post and wait until the next one. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Cheers.

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I am exhausted today. I want to sleep in but wake early dreaming of baguettes. Yes, that’s right. I was dreaming about food and lots of it. So it’s just 7am when I am already showered, dressed and walking towards the supermarket to buy some groceries for breakfast. That was the end of my sleep in.

In the mid-morning I head out to find a box to take my bicycle home. This proves challenging and I return to camp with a box that will probably be too small but will have to do in a pinch if I can’t find a better one on Monday. The short 6km return ride leaves me feeling exhausted and wanting sleep. My body feels warm and uncomfortable. Later I try to go out again to ride to the party that The Scientist is hosting. I give in after a few hundred meters again feeling like my body is overheating. The desire to lie down and close my eyes is almost desperate and I message Peter to say that I won’t be able to make the party.

But Peter is not so easily defeated and organises for the Scientist to come pick me up. It proves to be the best thing for me. In the hours that follow I am encouraged to taste some glasses of red wine from some of Hungary’s best wine regions, I eat delicious barbecue food and participate in cheerful conversation. There’s the Scientist and his wife, Peter and the Englishman from the Balaton bike ride. Then there is also an Australian family who are also from Brisbane and their Hungarian friend. It’s a wonderful evening.

When things start to wrap up at about 11pm, the Scientist’s wife offers to drive Peter, the Englishman and me to our respective homes. But the Englishman convinces her to drop them off in Budapest Centrum so she doesn’t have to drive as far and convinces me that I really should go out and experience Budapest’s nightlife on a Saturday, rather than waiting for Sunday. See, I have told him about the gay bars that they have in Budapest and how they are apparently different to those we have at home.

Now is time to block your ears and log off if you don’t like adult content and you didn’t head my first warning. Please do not complain if you read beyond this point. I have left some space so that the text so that you have to scroll a bit to get to the adult material. My story about Budapest would not be complete without telling about the following experiences.

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Once in Budapest Centrum I walk over to the Action Bar. This is one of Budapest’s three gay venues. Action and Coxx are bars while there is another venue that is a dance party venue. The main bar at Action is relatively small. There’s a steep 1,000HUF cover charge plus a 1,200HUF minimum drinks purchase. This is probably part of the reason why it’s so quiet inside on a Saturday night.

Anyway, as I was saying, the main bar is relatively small. There is space for half a dozen guys to sit at the bar, tall tables for another half dozen guys and then benches along the walls in a corridor just off the main bar. The dozen or so men present represent the usual gay bar scene: a couple of young twinks who barely have enough whiskers to shave, a few guys in their thirties, and the rest are all men for whom the glory days of being muscular and fashionable have long since passed (alas, we will all reach this stage so I mean no disrespect in this description).

I walk into a room behind the bar. A gay porno is playing on a big screen television and some guys are sitting here looking bored. One guy is passed out drunk and another is well on his way to passing out. There’s a door at the back of this room and all is dark behind it. This is where Action Bar departs from the gay bars I am used to at home (though I’ve only been in a gay bar twice in the past decade). In the dark room men cruise along looking to see whether they can get lucky. In a corner I can see a bare backside moving and a few guys watching it. I don’t know whether its seedy, comical or businesslike. The half dozen guys just get on with the business of playing with each other without any display or emotion, desire or pleasure. Only two actually achieve climax and the others leave bored. None of the men over 35 get any action at all … they are totally ignored by the young guys and each other. It seems almost pathetic in a way that they show total disinterest in the other men their age and only have eyes for the twenty-something year old muscle boys who ignore their existence.

At 1am a siren sounds and there is a show on the stage. A semi-muscular man of about forty years old with amazing tattoos starts to dance on stage. His style reminds me of Ramone from the Sandra Bullock movie The Proposal. Slowly but not so smoothly he strips his clothes off. He doesn’t even have the fancy rip off trousers and needs to first awkwardly remove his shoes. Oddly, he is being cheered on from the sidelines by a woman who seems to be his girlfriend, which is kind of odd in a gay bar. After stripping to his g-string, the dancer takes it all off, dancing naked on stage with his excitement on show. This would get the bar owner arrested in Brisbane. After the rather amusing routine is over the dancer leaves the stage and two naked men enter. They are young and slim. The oral performance that follows is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen. The guys obviously don’t want to be there and I take my cue to leave the bar.